Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Friday, June 29, 2007

Moscow Has the Say, Pullman Has to Pay

April again nailed it on the head recently with her saying, "Moscow has the say, Pullman has to pay." A perfect example of this appeared in a story in yesterday's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
Airport water project moves forward; Pullman begins early work to address fire flow concerns

Pullman officials are moving along with a project to provide more water to the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport.

The City Council has given Public Works Director Mark Workman the thumbs up to prepare a scope and budget for the project so the design phase can start soon.

Inadequate fire-flow to the airport has put any construction of additional airplane hangers on hold. Fire codes require 3,500 gallons of water per minute be accessible for up to two hours on the airport property. Water piped to the airport currently has a 1,000-gallon-per-minute capacity.

Last month, the airport board scrapped a $2.7 million, 600,000-gallon reservoir project that would serve the airport and potential growth in the highway corridor. [Because of Queen Nancy's veto of the project - tf] Instead, the group is pushing forward with an estimated $1.5 million 420,000-gallon reservoir that will provide water only to the airport.

The water is expected to be provided by Washington State University and piped to the airport through Pullman water lines.

Workman said he has $200,000 budgeted out of Pullman's utility fund for airport fire flow design projects. He doesn't expect other airport stakeholders to chip in any money to hire the engineers necessary to draft preliminary designs.

Pullman, along with the city of Moscow, Latah County, WSU, the University of Idaho and the Port of Whitman County all have stakes in the airport and contribute money annually.

"With the airport issues, Pullman has typically taken the lead and generally paid the lion's share of the costs. To me, if this is a project that's going to happen, someone needs to take responsibility and move forward. And that's what I'm trying to do," Workman said.

In the last several weeks, Airport Manager Robb Parish has met with the respective entities to get feedback on the proposed project. Nothing formal has been decided by any entity, but Parish said prospects look good.

"Moscow, I think, is very much on board. Pullman is," Parish said. "We've heard privately that the (Port of Whitman County) is. WSU is. The University of Idaho and Latah County have said OK in preliminary discussions. They didn't say yes, but they didn't have any problems with that concept.

"This is still very much in development stages, but so far, in the conversations we've had, everyone is on board," he added.

One concept for funding the fire-flow project would be to replace the current 20-year bond for the terminal and terminal improvements, which expires in 2008, with a new 20-year bond for fire flow. The idea has been discussed, but no action has been taken by the airport board. Any bond agreement would be incorporated into the airport interlocal agreement, currently being amended before its 2008 expiration.

Workman said construction of the reservoir could begin as early as 2009.

If the bond issue moves forward as planned, he said the city may be able to recover some money it fronted for design.

"Whether or not those costs would be folded into the bond, I don't know if that would be allowable or not," he said.

Parish said he's pleased the city of Pullman is taking initiative and that the airport board is working as a unit.

"It's picked up a tremendous amount of momentum in the last several months," he said. "Let's not start the planning in 2009. Let's do it now, so that when 2009 comes around and we have the opportunity for new bonds, we can move on with construction."

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